As I wrote last week, when stories I’m hopeful for get turned down it naturally leaves me with some angst about my career. But it also leaves me with angst about my day-to-day performance — am I the professional I’d like to think I am?
When I have a deadline for something like Now and Then We Time Travel, the metrics of success are simple: am I going to meet the deadline? Am I on track to meet whatever smaller benchmarks I’ve made for myself along the way? Am I delivering the quality my publisher’s going to accept?
During the years I was doing work for Demand Media, I had cash flow as a metric. The short articles, while not great art, paid steadily, so I could set monthly revenue goals and use them to judge performance.
At the moment, my income is erratic and I don’t have any deadlines. I have to rely on goals such as “how much writing did I get done this month?” or “How many short story drafts did I complete?” And then I worry because no matter how much time I put in, I could still end up just revising and revising and not actually sending anything out (been there, done that), or discovering the story has intractable problems (ditto). If I put in a sub-par day, I worry that I’m sliding into failure (I am aware this is irrational but that doesn’t always help). Plus, of course, no matter how many stories I complete, I may still be submitting all of them a couple of years from now. That awareness doesn’t help.
Generally I can live with the nagging little doubts. Occasionally, though, they get to me.
Regular week-in-review post will come later today.